Wow, ultimate fans! It feels like our seven years of toiling in the wilderness are starting to pay off. A 24-9 beating of the Chiefs followed by a 24-22 surprise to the Bills? Are you kidding me? The team is still just 4-5 but looking and acting like winners for the first time in a long time. The Broncos’ remaining schedule has some tough matchups - including the Vikings on Sunday night - but this team has an outside chance of rescuing the season if it can clean up stupid mistakes (penalties), avoid turnovers and create a few of their own.
This week’s UFGer is new to the series but not to MHR or this team - and he’s got some great insight for this week’s prime-time game. Sunaveil is a diehard Broncos fan living in New England with Vikings fans as friends. So he knows what it’s going to take to get a win on Sunday night - keeping the Vikings offense on the bench and using running backs in the passing game while putting Sutton’s big body up for the 50-50 balls all day.
Or winning on a second kick after a 12-men-on-the-field-penalty. Really, just whatever it takes.
Let’s GO BRONCOS!
The biggest takeaway from the #Broncos' win over the #Bills is that this team is realizing it can win the close ones.— Doctor of Words (& tights & over/under guesses) (@docllv) November 16, 2023
No more "here we go again" mentality.
Now it's, "We've got this."https://t.co/ItlSkp5LSB
Week 11: Vikings at Broncos
MHR - What just happened? Thoughts on that semi-ridiculous-but-no-less-exciting win over the Bills?
Sunaveil: The game was incredibly frustrating to watch, we should have blown them out but we can never make things easy. I was in the process of exploding when the refs announced 12 men on the field. Regardless, this was a huge win for us and now we have a lot more wiggle room to push for the playoffs.
MHR - First the Chiefs, then the Bills. Are you kidding me??? Is it ok to start believing in the Broncos now?
Sunaveil: I absolutely do. The team needs to see the fans believe in them after enthusiasm for the team has been decreasing and no shows in Denver have been increasing. Now that we beat the 2 teams who should’ve been the best in the AFC it’s the perfect time to be delusional. The Broncos are a real threat until proven otherwise.
MHR - Let’s start with the Broncos offense. Russell Wilson’s stats this season are very, very good. He was praised heavily by Rich Eisen earlier this week for “getting it done” and his TD:INT ratio is 18:4, one of the best in the league and a far cry from last year. But the offense still seems to sputter far too much. What is the answer to this?
Sunaveil: Right now Russ is playing the best version of what every post Peyton QB has done - game manager football. He’s limiting game-changing mistakes but we seem to have fewer splash plays every week, possibly because he doesn’t have enough time in the pocket and receivers don’t always seem to be getting open. I also think our offense has been getting more predictable, fewer outside runs and repetitive route trees that defenses are ready for.
MHR - Sean Payton called the running game effective even if it wasn’t as efficient as he wanted against the Bills. The Broncos ran the ball 38 times and passed it 29. Is this offense finding its identity finally in the run game? Do you see it being effective against the Vikings?
Sunaveil: The Vikings have a really strong rush defense so I don’t expect us to run super well against them. They’re 10th in the league in rush yards per game and only give up 3.7 yards per carry. It’s also looking like Ben Powers might miss the game, which will make running the ball even harder for us. I expect us to focus on runs to the right side.
MHR - Courtland Sutton seems to never get the attention he deserves as a top receiver and it always seems to go to Jerry Jeudy or Marvin Mims. Yet Sutton caught a touchdown pass from Wilson that NextGen stats said had a 3.2% chance of success. Even if he only gets a few targets, how can Sutton’s skills be used to an advantage over the Vikings?
Sunaveil: This could be a huge week for Sutton. The Vikes don’t have a corner who’s good enough to shut him down. Byron Murphy is not consistent and has some really bad moments while Akayleb Evans, despite being 6’2, doesn’t play at the same size Sutton does. Evans may also not play due to injury, which would open even more room for Sutton to show out vs the Vikings.
MHR - Wilson had a lot of scrambles with several scary shovel passes that ultimately worked for first downs and/or positive yardage. Do you think Payton and Wilson should make these more frequent in the offensive game plan? Conversely, will you agree with me that the WR screen pass in the backfield has got to be ripped from our playbook? ;)
Sunaveil: If I see Marvin Mims get the ball in the backfield one more time I might do some regrettable things. As for scrambles, I swear whenever we run a planned scramble it goes wrong, but most of our best offensive moments come when Wilson is on the move. I think we need to keep these shovel passes in the playbook since we don’t run a lot of crossing routes so there’s generally a lot of space for the runningbacks to take off in the middle of the field after a catch.
MHR - Thoughts on the offensive line? Can it hold up to the Vikings’ defensive front? Where (technique or position) does it still need some work?
Sunaveil: Danielle Hunter vs Mike McGlinchey terrifies me. The current sack leader vs one of the worst pass blockers in the league this year. If we don’t have Ben Powers this week we might be in for a disaster. Hopefully some confidence from these 3 straight wins helps the line play better but I have a bad feeling our pass blocking could look even worse than it did against the Bills. The Vikings like to blitz a lot, although they’ve done it less in recent weeks, and we have had some great moments at picking up blitzes but a lot of really bad ones too. If our O-line can step up to the challenge at least a few times we should be able to find some chunk plays.
Sean Payton said Russell Wilson is "on pace" to being comfortable in the offense. Added it's not just about the QB, but everyone on offense.— Zac Stevens (@ZacStevensDNVR) November 17, 2023
"We're not a finished product yet."
MHR - Brian Flores is no joke as a DC and his Vikings defense is handling business. They are 13th in total defense (323.2 yards/game); 16th in passing defense (224.4 yards/game) and 10th in rushing defense (98.8 yards/game). What concerns you the most about this VIkings D that was No. 31 in the league last year and has moved up to 13th overall?
Sunaveil: That pass rush. I talked about it a lot in the last question but our pass blocking vs their pass rushing seems like a terrible match up. DJ Wonnum, the rusher opposite Hunter, is having his best year so Bolles will be in for a tough match up too. Their pass defense has been known to give up some big plays so let’s hope we can find our guys deep downfield.
MHR - Kareem Jackson is back from the principal’s office and Payton told the media Wednesday that he told KJack “we’re on a bit of a roll so don’t mess anything up.” Does Kareem help or hurt the defense this week?
Sunaveil: With P.J. Locke on the injury report KJack could be really important for us. He’s not the probowl caliber guy he used to be but he still has a knack for finding some game changing plays and I bet he forces a turnover this week.
MHR - Josh Dobbs. Who knew? According to reports, Vikings head coach Kevin O’Connell described the plays to him over the headset as he and the Vikings beat the Falcons just two days after Dobbs set foot in the VIkings locker room. Can Bonitto and Cooper get enough pressure on him to rankle him? Can Surtain and KJack cover well enough to keep Dobbs from connecting with his big-time playmakers? Can KJack avoid getting kicked out?
Sunaveil: The Vikings offensive tackles have played super well this year so it could be a long game for Bonitto and Cooper but I bet they’ll get at least 1 sack. The interior linemen are a little weaker so look for Zach Allen to have sack opportunities. Our secondary looks better and better every week so I have faith that we’ll keep Dobbs from finding big yardage through the air. I think KJack won’t get ejected this week but he will lay someone out at some point.
MHR - Justin Jefferson and TJ Hockensen? Which player is a bigger threat to the Denver defense? Can VJ’s group continue their impressive performance streak?
Sunaveil: I don’t think we’ve effectively covered a tight end since TJ Ward left so Hockensen will likely be open a lot. Surtain should be up to the task of covering Jefferson. I think our defense will look good again; the Vikings offense has weaknesses and Dobbs is due to return to earth (pun intended) after some strong performances. The Vikings have one of the worst rushing attacks in the league so as long as Damarri Mathis stays off the field I think our defense will have the advantage over the Vikings offense.
MHR - Dalton Risner is starting for the Vikings. How many sacks will Bonitto or Cooper get if they are lined up in front of Risner? In general, how effective do you think pressure will be on Dobbs?
Sunaveil: I think Allen is a lot more likely to get one on Risner. Dobbs is mobile and can definitely escape pressure but we’ve played well against mobile QBs and if we get a few hits in, Dobbs will likely start making mistakes.
MHR - Four weeks ago, the Broncos were 1-5 and staring down possibly a one-win season. Then they beat a slightly-better-than-average Packers team, an ailing-but-always-dominant Chiefs team and finally a sliding-but-still-dangerous Bills team. How are you feeling about this team NOW?
Sunaveil: We look like a real football team. You can put all the asterisks you want on the wins but no Broncos team since 2015 wins all three of those games. The players are confident and hungry for success. Every win gives us more confidence and a better chance at stacking another W on the list
Stats for RUSSELL WILSON? 19/25, 212 yards, 1 TD and 1 INT
Stats for each Broncos RB? Williams: 17 carries for 82 yards and 1 TD; McLaughlin: 6 carries (not enough), 36 yards; Perine: 3 catches, 15 receiving yards, 1 carry for nothing
Number of yards receiving/TDs for the receivers? Sutton: 77 yards and 1 TD; Jeudy: 62 yards; Mims: 40 yards
Longest FG for Lutz?51
Number of sacks to Josh Dobbs? 3
Number of times Dobbs barely misses getting sacked? 5
Broncos player with the most tackles? Singleton
Who gets the first sack of the game for the Broncos? Zach Allen
Who gets any sacks? Browning gets one and Bonitto gets one
How many INTs/FF/FR for the Vikes D? 1 INT and a forced fumble but they don’t recover
How many INTs/FF/FR for the Broncos’ D? 1 INT and 2 forced fumbles, 1 fumble recovery
How many penalties between the two teams? 11, most of them on the Broncos, the Vikings are the least penalized team this year
Final Score? Broncos 23-19 Vikings
All blues ready for prime time. pic.twitter.com/jbjVIy0KEQ— Denver Broncos (@Broncos) November 17, 2023
Favorite John Elway win outside of the Super Bowls? He retired before I was born so I basically have to pick The Drive. During my lifetime it was winning the Peyton Manning sweepstakes.
Favorite Broncos win ever? 2015 vs New England in the regular season. Winning against an undefeated Pats team in the snow without Peyton was when I started to think we could win it all.
Favorite Peyton Manning win? 2015 Week 17 vs the Chargers. The way he rallied the troops and saved the game in the second half was the perfect way to head into the playoffs and proved he still had the magic.
Team you love to beat the most in the AFC West? Chargers, they’re pathetic in their own special way and no matter how bad the Broncos get we always beat the Chargers at least once
Coach you laugh at the most in the NFL? Arthur Smith. What the hell is he doing with that offense? It feels like he has incentives to use his good players as little as possible
Coach you most want to throw an egg at? Andy Reid for obvious reasons
Team you hate to lose to the most in the rest of the AFC? Patriots. I live in New England and I hate to see the team succeed
NFC team you could cheer for in the Super Bowl? Ironically I have to pick the Vikings here. I’ve got a friend who’s a huge Vikes fan and that poor franchise is tortured with miraculous failure and the ugly 0-4 Super Bowl record.
NFC team you want to face more than any other in the Super Bowl? Honestly I’d take any of the ones we’ve lost to in the Super Bowl. The Seahawks are the most recent and talked the most trash so I guess they’re priority No. 1, but we need revenge for some disastrous losses.
Favorite game looking forward to this season? Week 18 vs the Raiders. I’ll never forgive Sean Payton if we get swept by the Raiders and it costs us the playoffs. I’m still pissed about the Week 1 loss, and I want to put this overly cocky team in the dirt.
Easiest game left on the schedule? New England, that team is in shambles
Toughest game left on the schedule? Detroit, probably. I’ll never be convinced the Lions are genuinely strong until they win the Super Bowl. The franchise always finds a way to fail so…
Favorite Broncos player on the current roster? Justin Simmons, he’s been loyal to the Broncos for years and he’s just a great dude with so many off-the-field accomplishments.
Favorite Broncos player of all time not named John Elway? Von Miller. I started to really root for the team his rookie year, and he was the face of the franchise after that Super Bowl MVP.
Favorite new guy/rookie on the team? Not a rookie but Nik Bonitto, he wasn’t the most hyped player coming out last year, but he managed to outplay two strong veterans and seems to keep improving. He was the one player giving me faith in our defense early this year.
Food/Snack you have to eat on game day? I don’t always eat the same snack but drinking an orange crush, specifically from a glass bottle, is tradition for my family during a Broncos game. It’s by far the best tasting orange soda even without the obvious bias.
Favorite game analyst/commentator? Do the Manning brothers count? They’re hilarious and know the game better than anyone, plus Peyton just showed he’s still a massive Broncos fan. (*editor’s note: oh hell yeah they count. Peyton is the best)
How did you choose your MHR handle? I generally have used the word Veil in my gamertags so I just throw random words and sounds in front of it to make usernames.
If YOU were giving a tour of the Ring of Fame, who do you highlight? Floyd Little, Randy Gradishar, John Elway, Terrell Davis, and Champ Bailey. The most important player of each decade 60s-00s in my opinion.
How did you become a Broncos fan?
I have lived in Connecticut my whole life but my dad moved to Colorado in the 60s and got super invested in all their sports teams. I was just old enough to start caring about sports the Tebow year so it worked out perfectly that my dads team had the most popular player in the league and I’ve been hooked since that OT win vs the Steelers.
What level of belief are you right now with the Broncos?
This poll is closed
100 %, baby!
Better than half, but a little skeptical
50/50...this team could still go either way